The corridors of the teaching building of Wenhua No. 1 High School were crowded with students who came out to watch the snow, accompanied by a joyful exclamation.
Tao Xi was also squeezed in, but he was not looking at the snow. He shuddered, his eyes unconsciously passing through the heavy snow, and then toward the asphalt road leading to the school gate. Under the dimly yellow street lights, only snow flickering like goose feathers swirling and falling onto the quiet and uninhabited road could be seen.
The last night-study’s bell rang and the corridor was soon empty. Tao Xi waited for the bell to ring before lifting his feet towards the classroom, he couldn’t help but turn his head and glance at the road when he took a step out.
This look made him stop in his tracks instantly.
Tao Xi quickly turned around and approached, his body pressed against the cold corridor railing, and he leaned outward to look at the asphalt road with his good eyesight. There was a familiar figure on the road, holding an umbrella in the direction of the teaching building.
The distance was so far away and the snow was so heavy, but he could be sure who that person was.
At that moment, Tao Xi had hardly any thoughts and quickly turned around and ran towards the stairs. Because the class was already in session, the stairwell was silent. He rushed downstairs alone, almost falling on the road because of the slippery ground.
He ran into the bitter cold wind and heavy snow outside the teaching building, and snowflakes kept falling on his face and into his neck, turning into cold water trails, but he didn’t even notice.
On the silent road, Tao Xi saw Lin Qinhe stopped not far away in his swaying vision, standing quietly in the heavy snow of the night under the umbrella, seeming to be looking at him.
He ran faster and ran to Lin Qinhe in one breath without stopping. The man stood firmly, his eyes shining, gasping for breath and asked.
“You are done with the matter…”
Before the words were finished, he was suddenly hugged into the arms of Lin Qinhe.
The snow and darkness surrounded them tightly, Lin Qinhe lowered his head and buried it on his shoulder that had been slightly soaked with snowflakes. The arms holding him were tightening, nestling his entire body between his firm chest and arms, as if afraid he would disappear.
Tao Xi couldn’t see Lin Qinhe’s expression, but he seemed to feel the indescribable vulnerability and sadness in this person. He raised his hand to hug Lin Qinhe back and asked worriedly.
Lin Qinhe, however, remained silent, buried deeply next to his neck, only the sound of somewhat heavy breathing could be heard. He had to stay quietly in Lin Qinhe’s arms, at a loss for words, gently patting Lin Qinhe’s back.
He said softly, “It’s too cold outside, why don’t we go back to the classroom first for the night study?”
Lin Qinhe finally spoke, but his voice was dumb: “Go back.”
Tao Xi was stunned and subconsciously asked: “Where to go back?”
Lin Qinhe didn’t answer him. Instead, he slowly let go of him, but squeezed his hand firmly, tilted his head and kissed his cheek lightly, slightly cold and gentle, with a touch of solemnity.
Until he got into the taxi, Tao Xi was still thinking about the heavy and hot emotion when Lin Qinhe was holding him just now. He looked at Lin Qinhe on the side. The light in the car was dim, but the car window was flowing with brilliant neon, giving Lin Qinhe’s profile a soft glow.
Lin Qinhe noticed his line of sight and turned his head to look at him, holding his hand tighter.
Lin Qinhe held his hand firmly all the way, tightly fitting, so hard that the palm of his hand was a little sweaty.
After getting off of the car, the snow fell less. Many people on the street no longer had umbrellas. Lin Qinhe still held his hand and led him through the scattered snowflakes and the bustling crowd on the street.
It was not unusual for two seventeen or eighteen boys to hold hands,but the two of them were tall and eye-catching. Many people look at them. Tao Xi looked at Lin Qinhe nervously, but Lin Qinhe did not seem to care, just led him forward.
He was held by Lin Qinhe and walked into a shopping mall, where the everlasting Christmas song “All I Want For Christmas is You” was playing and there were advertisements for Christmas sales in stores all over the place.
Tao Xi thought Lin Qinhe was going to take him to buy something, but Lin Qinhe led him into a small store at the very edge of the mall. When he looked up, it was a photo studio, decorated in the retro style of the 1980s.
Surprised, he asked Lin Qinhe, “Are you going to take pictures here?”
In his impression, Lin Qinhe seemed to dislike taking pictures. Every time they took a group photo for a class event before, Lin Qinhe looked a little impatient.
Before Lin Qinhe could answer, the photo studio owner, who looked to be in his twenties, came over and smiled, “Yo, long time no see. How come you remembered to come to my place.”
Seeing that they knew each other, Tao Xi panicked and tried to pull his hand out, but Lin Qinhe didn’t let go, instead he firmly grabbed his hand and gently squeezed it soothingly.
Lin Qinhe said to the boss in a familiar tone, “I’d like you to take a picture with him for me.”
Tao Xi stared at Lin Qinhe blankly, his hand honestly did not move.
The boss ruffled the long hair that fell in front of his forehead back and glanced at Tao Xi, his eyes fell on the two people holding hands, the smile on his face deepened a bit, and he said jokingly.
“My store is mainly for wedding photos and family portraits, are you sure you’re looking for the right one?”
Lin Qinhe looked at Tao Xi beside him, smiled slightly and said to the boss, “Sure.”
The boss gave a tsk and wanted to continue joking, but Lin Qinhe gave him a not-so-kind look, so he had to give an OK gesture, “Then I’ll go get ready.” Then he walked into the workshop inside.
Tao Xi’s cheeks had been hot since he heard the group photo, he whispered to Lin Qinhe: “It’s the same to take pictures with your phone. Why come to the photo studio to take pictures?”
Lin Qinhe was silent for a while and whispered, “I want to take a more formal picture with you.”
Tao Xi looked at Lin Qinhe, his heart seemed to be filled with warm spring water. He smiled and said, “Okay, ba. I haven’t been in a photo studio for a long time either. I took one in elementary school ……”
He paused before continuing: “A family portrait with a background of Tiananmen Square. The Chinese teacher asked us to write an essay for the photo. The essay I wrote for that photo was titled ‘I Love My Home’.”
Lin Qinhe held Tao Xi’s hand tightly. He turned his head to look at Tao Xi and said, “After we take the photo, you can also write an essay for it.”
Tao Xi joked: “Then Teacher Lin can give me a question, ba.”
At this time the owner of the photo studio came out and said, “Come in, you can take a picture.”
He and Lin Qinhe walked into the studio together. The setting in the studio was the same as the shop’s style, all in retro style. Like everyone who came to take pictures, they changed into white shirts without exception, and then sat side by side on the stools.
After the boss took a few photos with the camera, the more he looked at the photos, the more satisfied he was. He said to the two men: “The two of you look at each other.”
Tao Xi turned his head when he heard the words and Lin Qinhe also turned his head to look at him. He and Lin Qinhe looked at each other. Perhaps because they looked at each other for too long, or perhaps Lin Qinhe looked at him too softly, he didn’t know why his eyes were hot, and Lin Qinhe’s face became blurred in his vision.
He suddenly remembered there was a family photo that he once cherished in his notebook, and then lost it somewhere. He searched for a long time but couldn’t find it.
Later, there was no point in finding it.
Lin Qinhe looked at Tao Xi’s eyes, suddenly leaned in close and gently kissed the corner of his eyes.
This scene was frozen in the lens.
After the photos were taken, the boss quickly developed several small-sized photos, and the larger ones were to be sent to Lin Qinhe in a few days.
Lin Qinhe carefully put the photo in the envelope and gave the boss an address that was the residential area. Tao Xi thought that the address might be Lin Qinhe’s home.
They got into a taxi again, and Tao Xi heard Lin Qinhe reported an address to the driver. It was actually the address Lin Qinhe gave to the owner of the photo studio just now.
He suddenly became nervous and his head buzzed. Was it possible that Lin Qinhe was going to take him back to his home?
The journey didn’t take long, the car only drove for more than 20 minutes and stopped. Tao Xi followed Lin Qinhe out of the car and found that the place was the entrance to a very high-end residential area, looking like the place where Lin Qinhe’s home should be.
Tao Xi looked at the tall building, curled his fingers unconsciously, and the next second his hand was held by Lin Qinhe again, his palm trembled, and his head tilted to look at Lin Qinhe.
Lin Qinhe seemed to sense his doubts and said to him, “There is no one else in my house.”
Tao Xi breathed a sigh of relief and asked in surprise: “Are you living alone now?”
He knew that Lin Qinhe had always lived with his mother, as well as Yang Duole who lived there from time to time.
Lin Qinhe however, didn’t answer his question. He took his hand into the gate of the community, walked through the garden and walked into the elevator of a building. The elevator was spacious and there were no other people.
Tao Xi saw Lin Qinhe press the button on the 32nd floor and watched the numbers on the electronic screen increase at a constant speed. His heart kept beating along with the numbers.
When the elevator door opened, Tao Xi took a deep breath and followed Lin Qinhe to a door, standing by the side cautiously watching Lin Qinhe open the door.
“Come in.” Lin Qinhe turned on the light and said as he turned to him.
He followed and walked in, but his footsteps stopped momentarily.
What came into view was a bright and spacious living room. The decoration was very new, in line with the cold color of Lin Qinhe. The whole floor-to-ceiling window was not closed with curtains, and outside of the windows, the night view of the city was gorgeous like a sea of stars.
But what attracted his attention was not the scenery outside the floor-to-ceiling windows, but the colorful balloons and dazzling fairy lights in the living room that were out of place with the decoration, surrounding a huge multi-layer fondant cake. There was also a white wool carpet next to the floor-to-ceiling windows and a Christmas tree full of candies in the corner.
Lin Qinhe looked at Tao Xi and said with an unnatural look on his face, “Sorry, this birthday party is just the two of us, it’s not very lively.”
After he asked Qiao Yitang about these arrangements, Qiao Yitang rushed over to help him. He was not satisfied and thought it was too fancy but Qiao Yitang said that the birthday party had to have an atmosphere like this.
Tao Xi looked at the cake in a daze, and after a while he shook his head, saying:
“Two people would be very lively.”
After all, he used to be alone before this and even had the wrong birthday.
He followed Lin Qinhe to change slippers, took off his coat and hung it on the hanger. He walked to the center of the living room to look at the birthday cake, only to find that there was a moon made of fondant on the top of the cake.
The moon was the same as the comic he drew for Lin Qinhe, but next to the moon was not the meteorite he drew, but a deep blue star, entwined by a silver-white band of light, as if it was shining in its own orbit in the Milky Way.
Tao Xi looked up at the star motionlessly.
Lin Qinhe saw Tao Xi looking at the cake in a daze. Thinking that he wanted to eat cake, he said: “The cake we will eat is not so big, but it will taste better.”
He had always felt that fondant cakes looked good and had a greater decorative effect but not tasty, so in addition to this custom-made cake, he bought another cake with better taste.
Tao Xi let out some nasal “en” and turned to face Lin Qinhe. Hugging Lin Qinhe’s waist, he put his forehead on Lin Qinhe’s shoulder and rubbed it back and forth gently.
Lin Qinhe raised his hand and rubbed Tao Xi’s hair, only to find that his hair was a little wet, probably because it had been drenched in snow. He was worried about Tao Xi catching a cold and said to him, “Go take a shower, and we’ll eat cake together afterwards.”
Tao Xi still buried his forehead next to Lin Qinhe’s neck, his face was a little hot, and he said sullenly, “I didn’t bring any clothes with me.”
He didn’t bring anything. He had planned to go back to school, climbing over the wall after his birthday in the middle of the night.
Lin Qinhe had a smile in his voice, and he can feel a slight vibration when he speaks. He said: “You only brought a person.”
Tao Xi felt his face become hotter, and only nodded.
Lin Qinhe did have everything here, towels, toothbrushes, pajamas… even underwear, all new and washed, and he could just wear them.
Tao Xi held a set of light beige cotton pajamas in his hand. Watching Lin Qinhe put water in the bathtub for him, he asked suddenly: “You live alone in such a big house, are you not afraid?”
He was most afraid of living alone. When he was a child, Guo Ping occasionally took Tao Le back to her family’s home for a few days, leaving him alone at home. He had to check the door several times at night, turn on the old radio to listen to the radio station, and wrap himself in a quilt before daring to sleep.
Lin Qinhe put the water away, stood up, wiped his hands with a towel, and said in a loose tone: “I’m a little scared.”
Tao Xi’s eyes widened in surprise. Lin Qinhe always gave him the feeling of being calm and indifferent and reassuring, as if nothing would make this person nervous and upset.
He couldn’t hold back his laughter and he exclaimed with some exaggeration: “Lin Qinhe is actually afraid to live alone too.”
Lin Qinhe leaned against the edge of the sink behind and looked at him, and said to him with a deep and soft voice:
“I won’t live alone anymore.”
Tao Xi’s heart jumped suddenly, and he looked at Lin Qinhe blankly, his mind blank. He opened his mouth, but he didn’t say a word.
Lin Qinhe stood up straight, took a step closer to him, raised his hand to rub his earlobe, and said softly: “Take a shower first, remember to blow dry your hair.”
me: the update will be resumed as usual
also me: only update once a week
sorry everyone, real life happens so the update schedule is changed. I’ll update this on saturday, sunday, and monday every week, however, depends on my irl, if i’m not busy, the update might be more frequent.